Day 3 was Tuesday and that meant it was time to explore the majestically beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our hike this year was Laurel Falls–our second time here but our son’s first. The day started out perfect at a cool sub 60 degrees, but we had a nice breakfast planned at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp before we did any walking. After a typically hearty breakfast here, we were ready to walk it off. We were on the trail by 8 in the morning so there were just a few cars at what is well-known as one of the most popular trails in the Smokies; this is because it a fairly short hike, it is paved, and the Falls make for some great photos–especially with the kids. After hiking some of the other trails in the Smokies, we were surprised at how easy it seemed compared to last time–which was five years ago. This is probably on the easy side of its designation as a moderate hike in the trail books. We have done other moderate hikes that seem much more strenuous.
When we reached the Falls we were treated with a real gusher of a waterfall. This was probably due in large part to the heavy rains from yesterday afternoon. It was a sight to behold, and we spent some time taking pictures in awe of the intensity the Falls were exhibiting on this glorious morning. I remember thinking as we were leaving that once the Trail got busier, people would not have much room to stand up there because normally you can sit up by the rocks as the water comes down–but this would actually be a little dangerous today.
We spent the rest of the morning just taking in nature by exploring a few of the lesser populated Quiet Walkways. There are a few marked on Little River Road close to the Laurel Falls Trail. I recommend you try these if you get a late start and find that a few trails are super busy with hikers. They are fairly short but give you a glimpse of the beauty of the Smokies on a smaller scale; they gave us some pretty fantastic pictures and memories, nonetheless.
Several miles of walking was in the books so we drove out to The Arts and Crafts Community to check out a few of the local shops. We were a bit disappointed to see two of our favorite shops closed; we missed one of them–Custom Creations by Beth–by a day, as she was closed until Wednesday. We shrugged it off as we vowed to return. We talked to a man who has a shop there, and he said business is still down after the fires, but he had optimism for a good summer. I hate hearing these things even though I know them to be true, as I follow news outlets in Knoxville and social media. If you come visit, make sure you give these local artists and business owners a chance and see their wonderfully creative works.
Dinner on this busy day was at No Way Jose’s. This was a first-time visit for us here, and we wanted to compare it to Loco Burro–which we tried last year. As it turned out there really was no comparison. I had the Chicken Fajita Burrito, and it was everything I had hoped I would be. I could barely finish but we agreed that it would be a restaurant we would return to again.
On Monday we paid for tickets for Tuesday night’s show at Sweet Fanny Adams. We arrived about a half hour prior to the door’s opening, so we had a little fun sitting on the bench outside. We saw the show called Frolic! Something Amusing This Way Comes and it was just as hilarious as we remembered it to be when we went in 2012. Chris MacPherson and his cast of characters are true professionals of live theater, and I managed to get up close and personal by getting pulled onstage for one of their skits. It was a bit frightening but I survived and got a free Ripley’s Moving Theater ticket after it was thankfully done.
It was another long day full of memorable activities. The good news was we still had two days left in town–but first, some much-needed rest.
We got the day started right by taking a little longer walk down to Log Cabin Pancake House. This would be Zac’s first trip to this popular breakfast hangout, but it was our first since our inaugural trip back in 2011. After some heavy deliberating, he decided on the Butterscotch Pancakes, while I ordered the Buckwheat Pancakes–my first time trying Buckwheat. My wife ordered ham and eggs–and typically with the meat dishes here, it comes with three buttermilk pancakes too. We were all left with positive reviews, and we found the prices to be cheaper than Pancake Pantry; although I won’t say that Log Cabin has better flapjacks, even though it’s close. Still, it is a very worthy alternative option.
Today was Erin and Zac’s day of activities so I was free to roam the Parkway by myself. After a slow start to the day, I succeeded in making a few purchases. I finally pulled the trigger and bought four of Doc Collier’s smaller bottles of Moonshine: Original, Root Beer, Firecracker, and Sweet Tea. After doing two tasting, I felt I had a good grasp of what I liked best.
My wife and son enjoyed their day by going to Ripley’s Aquarium. We had two tickets so I let them enjoy one of the finest Aquariums in the country. They left with some really good pictures–some were actually quite funny, including a selfie with a sea creature friend photobombing their moment. I also relinquished my Ripley’s Moving Theater ticket to them, since Zac really wanted to go again. All in all, it was a fun day for all of us, separately.
Dinner was to be Cherokee Grill on this night, and I had my first taste of the Prosperity Pork Chop; it almost tasted like the Prosperity Steak, as I had to remind myself I was actually eating a different animal–tender and juicy goodness. This was what my wife and son ate; although with Zac’s, he was able to order the smaller kid’s menu version. My wife was a bit disappointed with her steak, but we have high expectations so this won’t derail our plans for a return.
This wraps up the second part of our June Gatlinburg trip. Stay tuned for Part Three as I put the cherry on top of another vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Thanks for reading and leave a comment; I will reply back as soon as I get it.